In case you’ve been living under a rock this past month, Albert Pujols in entering the final year of his current contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
After setting a deadline of the start of spring training to get a new deal done, the two sides fell short. Pujols has repeatedly stated that he will not hold contract discussions during the season, so with no deal finalized, the Cardinals will have to wait until the fall to begin talking about a contract extension.
Reports have the slugger seeking a 10-year, $300 million deal, which would make Pujols the highest paid player in the league. The Cardinals, however, think that’s a big too high of a price to pay, even for a player of Pujols’ caliber. Unfortunately for St. Louis, there is much speculation that if they don’t pay him that money, then someone will. The most often talked about teams are the Cubs, Angels and even the Yankees.
What can the Cardinals do to keep Prince Albert? Here are a few “unique” contract clauses they can include to keep Albert in St. Louis. Some are more realistic than others, but it’s about thinking outside the bun, right?
Albert Pujols, who just turned 31 last month, is rapidly climbing the all-time statistical lists in many of the major offensive categories. Here is how he ranks:
Home runs: 408, 45th all-time, 9th among active
RBIs: 1230, 127th all-time, 14th among active
Average (min 3,000 appearances, 500 games): .3314, 29th all-time, 1st among active
Pujols needs two seasons to pass Stan “The Man” Musial as the franchise leader in home runs (67 to go). He’s also 721 RBIs behind Musial and .059 slugging percentage points behind Mark McGwire.
Albert has a realistic chance to overtake many of the records as a Cardinal. If he stays and becomes the most successful baseball player in St. Louis Cardinals history, why not name the city’s most famous landmark after him?
Statistics taken from www.baseball-reference.com
I read in another article by B/R Featured Columnist Matt Trueblood that the Chicago Cubs offered pitcher Kerry Wood a position after his playing days were over. It wasn’t clear what kind of position was offered, or if it was actually a true report.
But think about it, who better to be the Cardinals’ hitting coach? Yes, I know, McGwire is there now, but do we really want to go down that road? By the time Pujols is finished playing, who knows where McGwire will be.
Philadelphia Phillies second baseman has a clause in his contract that allows him to veto a trade to certain clubs. That’s not so strange, but what is strange is that Utley can change the teams each year. So, if he doesn’t want to go to a losing team, he doesn’t have to.
This could work in favor of both Pujols and the Cardinals. Say the Cards sign Albert to the 10-year contract that he’s reported to want, if his production begins to drop around year seven or eight, the Cardinals can try and trade Pujols to get some young talent and in exchange, Pujols will be guaranteed to go to a team he wants to and have a chance to win a championship.
Albert is well-known for his charity work in and around the St. Louis area. The Pujols Family Foundation was started in 2005 in an effort to assist people with Down syndrome and their families.
The Cardinals could set it up where each home run Albert (or the Cardinals as a team) hits, the team donates $1,000 to Pujols’ foundation.
In the same spirit as “Homers for a Cause,” the Cardinals could set up a target in left field. Everyone has seen the “hit it here” signs, usually during the Home Run Derby.
The Cardinals could make a promotion where if someone hits the Pujols’ Pinhole sign, the Cardinals will donate $25,000 to the Pujols Family Foundation. Not only will there be the sign itself, but a hole in the middle of the target where if a home run ball flies through, the Cardinals will donate $500,000.
A promotion such as this would show that the Cardinals are committed to Albert and his off-the-field endeavors.
What superstar athlete doesn’t have a shoe deal? Heck, even Stephon Marbury has one. Right now, Albert Pujols wears Nike cleats. Why not strike a deal up with Nike so that the entire Cardinals team gets to wear Pujols cleats?
No, not like that; change numbers! Kobe Bryant built his reputation wearing number eight. In 2006, he changed it to number 24. He’s still one of the game’s elite players.
Albert Pujols could pull the same thing. When the Cardinals acquired Matt Holliday, he offered Pujols a watch in exchange for the number five that he had worn in Colorado and Oakland. Obviously, Pujols declined.
As part of the whole “changing his brand” movement, he should call up Holliday and see if the offer is still available. Then, go change numbers so everyone has to buy a new Albert Pujols jersey.
In Busch Stadium, the section directly behind the backstop is called the “Cardinals Club. One of the two sections behind home plate is Section 5. Take the fifth seat of the fifth row in section five, and call it “Albert’s Throne.”
Have the throne decorated and personalized to fit the title. Albert himself can have control who has access to the seat, whether it be his wife, one of his four children, or simply let it be open for a fan.
Albert Pujols has had his signature neat, short goatee for the duration of his career. Many top athletes change something mid-career, why not change something as simple as his goatee.
If the Cardinals pay Pujols a $500,000 bonus to shave his goatee into a Fu Manchu, not only will Albert be able to rebrand himself, but the Cardinals could have some fun with it too. Can’t you picture “Fu Manchu Day” at Busch Stadium each year? I can. First 30,000 fans get a stick-on Fu Manchu mustache. I’d be first in line!
What’s better than free beer?
For those who don’t know, the Anheuser-Busch headquarters is located in St. Louis. As part of a unique clause, Pujols could have a regular shipment of Budweiser products sent to his home. Since the traditional Budweiser is high in carbs (10.6g) and calories (145), he may want to go with the popular Bud Light or Budweiser Select 55.
If Albert wants to mix things up, Anheuser-Busch offers dozens of beverages. Just to name a few:
- Budweiser: Budweiser, Bud Light, Budweiser Select, Bud Light Lime, Bud Light Golden Wheat, Budweiser American Ale
- Michelob: Michelob Original, Light, Amber Bock, Bavarian Style Wheat, Honey Lager, Honey Wheat, Irish Red
- Bass, Beck’s, Stella Artois, Rolling Rock, Bacardi and even O’Douls
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